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Douglas A. Kranch
North Central State College

       Faculty develop intellectual property needed for online courses while employed by an academic institution.
       That institution has a claim on the copyright because the instructional materials developed by the faculty
       members could be seen as “works for hire.” On the other hand, both tradition and case law have seen faculty
       as the copyright possessors of any instructional materials they develop. The interests of both the administra-
       tion and faculty may be best served with a negotiated agreement that gives the institution ownership rights
       while allowing use and distribution rights to remain with the authoring faculty.

INTRODUCTION                                                     of course materials developed by the faculty
                                                                 they employ belong to them. Both faculty and
The controversy over who owns academic                           administration believe they have strong argu-
coursework materials has intensified with the                    ments in their favor. Intellectual property own-
proliferation of online courses. Many faculty                    ership is especially important in the context of
believe the intellectual property they produce                   computer-based distance education. This arti-
for coursework belongs entirely to them. Har-                    cle discusses the merits of the arguments fac-
vard Law School’s Arthur Miller demonstrated                     ulty and administration for retaining online
the profit that can be made from freelance aca-                  intellectual property rights and proposes a
demic work when he produced a video series                       compromise that can serve the interests of both
on (ironically) civil procedure and intellectual                 the administration and the faculty.
property for a course offered at a different
online institution. Miller saw this as no differ-                OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL IN THE
ent from book publishing deals he had been
                                                                 DISTANCE LEARNING AGE
negotiating for many years (Alger, 2000). At
the same time, college and university adminis-                   Distance education is growing in importance
trations believe the intellectual property rights                as well as in numbers in the United States. In

• Douglas A. Kranch, Professor, Computer Information Systems, North Central State College, 2441 Kenwood Circle,
Mansfield, OH 44901. Telephone: (419) 755-4788. E-mail: dkranch@ncstatecollege.edu

The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Volume 9(4), 2008, pp. 349–356                              ISSN 1528-3518
Copyright © 2008 Information Age Publishing, Inc.                       All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
350                                             The Quarterly Review of Distance Education   Vol. 9, No. 4, 2008

the 2000-01 academic year, the National Cen-            model toward the fruits of academic labor,
ter for Education Statistics (NCES) reported            contention for the intellectual property rights
that 2,320 two- and 4-year degree-granting              of faculty is rising rapidly (Rhoades, 2001).
institutions in the United States, or 56%,
offered distance education courses, an increase
of 12% over the 1997-1998 academic year                 COPYRIGHT LAW AND
(Tabs, 2003). While distance education has the          INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
altruistic benefit of taking “the tools of success
to those who have the least access to                   The concept of intellectual property is inti-
resources” (Nemire, 2007, p. 27), there is a            mately related to copyright. American Associ-
more pecuniary reason for the recent growth in          ation of University Professors (n.d.) defined
distance learning courses.                              copyright as “that bundle of rights that protect
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